January 16 2004
RATING CLINTON: A new
Marist poll released yesterday shows Hillary Clinton's job
approval rating at 55%, up 6 points since last September. But
it hasn't translated into better reelect numbers for her: in head-to-head
match ups she's slid back into a tie with George Pataki and still
trails Rudy by 5 points.
Hillary could retire from the Senate in 2006 and move right into
Presidential campaign mode, setting up an organization and raising
money for '08. The more likely scenario is that she runs again
and uses a solid reelection victory as a springboard to her 2008
for reelection always carries risks. A loss in '06 would drive
a stake through the heart of Mrs. Clinton's ambitions for a return
trip to the White House. It's hard to imagine anyone emerging
with a better shot of being a Hillary killer in '06 than Rudy.
reports President Bush finished 2003 with an average job approval
rating of 59.7% which they say is, by historical standards, pretty
APPLIES FOR POLITICAL WELFARE: John points out that I didn't
do a good enough job yesterday of ridiculing Carol Moseley-Braun's
announcement that she's dropping out of the race. He's right.
For the last
year she has been milking publicity out of a campaign with zero
credibility and zero chance of winning. Less than a week before
the first votes are cast - more specifically less than a week
before Democratic primary voters have a chance to officially render
judgment on her candidacy - she abandons ship and throws her support
behind the current frontrunner.
It's a pathetic
suck-up for a future job. If she's lucky, maybe she can land another
irrelevant ambassadorship (no offense to anybody reading in New
Zealand) or maybe she hits the jackpot with a low level cabinet
position for which she isn't remotely qualified when Dean goes
looking to "diversify" his administration. And the mind
absolutely reels at the thought (which Miles O'Brien voiced to
Judy Woodruff yesterday) that Dean might actually choose Braun
as his running mate if he becomes the nominee.
Is this kind
of thing common in politics? Yes. So am I being too harsh on Braun?
I don't think so. In many ways Carol Moseley-Braun is the least
admirable of the fringe candidates running for President. For
years she's traded politically on the color of her skin and her
sex rather than any sort of record of accomplishment.
six years in the Senate Moseley-Braun left that august body most
well known not for a piece of legislation but for a
private 1996 trip to the home of Nigerian strongman Sani Abacha
with her ex-fiance Kgosie Matthews, who also happened to be a
former lobbyist for Nigeria. Braun has also been dogged
by a number of other scandals dating all the way back to her
time as Recorder of Deeds for Cook County.
In the final
analysis, Braun's maneuver is understandable. Right now lining
up for political patronage is the best - and perhaps only - way
for her to stay in public life. She's simply not electable on
if she doesn't get the political hand out she's looking for this
year, her run for president may help put a new gloss on her past
and make her electable somewhere, sometime, for something in the
future. - T. Bevan 10:45 am | Link
January 15 2004
AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Carol
Moseley-Braun is out, and she's going to endorse Dean. Is
this a big deal? Not really. As we've said before, endorsements
like this are generally overrated and Braun wasn't much of a player
in the first place.
RACE: But Braun's endorsement does bring up an interesting
point. Conventional wisdom says it should help boost Dean's standing
among African-Americans and help repair the damage caused by Al
Sharpton's attack on Dean's racial record in the Black and
Brown debate last week.
how much damage did Sharpton's widely publicized attacks do to
Dean? The answer looks like "not much." Two days ago
Dean won the DC primary with 42% of the vote from a predominantly
African-American population. And this article from
The State yesterday suggests that Dean is "likely to
get a pass from South Carolina voters" on the issue of race.
whitebread image and his bona fides on race could be a problem.
After all, this is a candidate who suggests to voters that his
deep understanding racial matters and commitment to diversity
came from having two black roommates his freshman year in college.
of which, the Atlanta
Journal Constitution carries a profile of one Dean's black roommates,
Don Roman, in the paper this morning. Even though Roman is a big
Dean supporter now and doesn't mind being touted as one of the
prime assets in Dean's racial portfolio, it turns out he was surprised
to learn that his falling in with Dean as a freshman at Yale wasn't
a random occurrence:
interest in race relations brought the two young men together
-- but Roman didn't know that when they met as Yale freshmen
midst of the civil rights movement of the '60s, Dean -- son
of a Wall Street securities broker with a home on Park Avenue
-- saw an opportunity to broaden his horizons and requested
a black roommate.
placed in a four-person suite, with two of his roommates being
African-American, one of them Ralph Dawson of Charleston, S.C.,
now a New York labor lawyer who, like Roman, has become active
in the Dean campaign. Roman grew up in Memphis, raised by a
single mother who died when he was 12.
learned only recently of Dean's request for a black roommate.
Knowing that during their freshman year "would have been the
kiss of death," said Roman, not wanting to be "some white liberal's"
interesting paradox. White liberals will look at this story and
praise Dean for proactively "broadening his horizons"
but I suspect many blacks will view it - as Roman apparently does
now - as an act of superior condescension.
considerable rhetorical skills and his ability to connect with
an audience, if he ends up winning the nomination he may need
more help and more surrogates among the African-American community
than any other candidate.
JFK: Yesterday in Iowa John "F." Kerry vowed to
the grip" of special interests in Washington D.C. Kerry
implored the crowd:
you to join this fight - not just to defeat George Bush, but
to drive the forces of greed and privilege from the precincts
and pinnacles of power, and make America work again for the
people who are the heart and strength of our country."
funny. On the same day, over in this other paper that only Beltway
types read, the headline is: Kerry
Raps K Street, But Senator Cozy With Lobbyists, Too:
his Senate career, Kerry has helped special interests, even
against the apparent interests of his own constituents. This
helped cement ties with lobbyists who donated thousands of dollars
to his campaign."
I just love
Presidential primary season, don't you?. - T. Bevan 8:29am
January 14, 2004
THE LETTER: Looks like Dean's
a unilateralist after all:
it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction
with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded
that we must take unilateral action."
Tagorda has some questions for the Governor.
I haven't read it yet, but here it is: Howie
in Rolling Stone.
The crushing suspense of the DC
primary is finally over.
ONE HEAD OF THE MONSTER: A postscript to yesterday's entry
on the two-headed monster. Here's Rich
Lowry in National Review:
isn't much of a substantive or tonal alternative to the former
Vermont governor. He's just Dean with medals. If anything, Clark
is more outrageous than the front-runner, routinely questioning
President Bush's patriotism.
morning's Manchester Union-Leader (reg. req'd):
wants congressional probe of Iraq war decision
By JOHN DiSTASO
Senior Political Reporter
MANCHESTER — Democratic Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark yesterday
called for a congressional probe of the Bush administration’s
decision to invade Iraq.
said the nation is no safer now than it was before the war was
launched because President George W. Bush “neglected the North
Korean nuclear program” and neglected “to go after Osama bin
retired four-star general was asked if he, as President, would
launch or demand a probe of the Bush administration decision.
don’t think we can wait for this election to begin a probe,”
he said. “We have to demand that probe now . . . (while) we
don’t know what other tricks the administration might have up
its sleeve to pursue its original design, whatever that was,
for the Middle East.”
North Korea and Osama? Congressional probe? "Tricks"
up the sleeve? This is straight out of the fever swamp.....
PRESIDENT: Amusing story
in the Des Moines Register. Martin Sheen says of Dean, ""He's
the real Bartlet."
PRESIDENT: Dean's got Sheen, but Bush
said and strongly believe that the next five years will be crucial
for the America my children and grandchildren will inherit.
I want a commander in chief like George Bush. I want a man who
doesn't suffer from analysis paralysis."
I'd be willing
to bet you'll see Zell Miller speaking at the Republican National
Convention this fall.
STATE : Bush approval
rating rises just enough to have Rove & Co. wondering
if it's possible. Don't get distracted boys, it isn't (at least
not yet). -
T. Bevan 7:26 am | Link
January 13, 2004
A TWO-HEADED MONSTER TAKES SHAPE: Michael
Crichton said in a speech recently that "speculation
is a complete waste of time." He's right, of course, but
that's not going to stop me from speculating on the circus that
is the current Dem presidential race. Plus, I'll be referencing
highly accurate and predictive polling data to give
my speculations more, um, "gravitas."
To wit, a
new CNN/Gallup/USA Today national
poll out this morning shows Dean and Clark separating themselves
from the rest of the pack. Absolutely worthless, I know. BUT,
we were also treated to a couple of new SUSA
polls last night showing Clark starting to eat Dean's dust in
(I mean that in a positive way - up until now Clark has been so
far behind he couldn't even see Dean's dust) and also taking a
surprising 7-point lead in Arizona.
I've already mentioned Clark's
decent standing in a number of critical post-New Hampshire
states like South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee as well as
some March 9 primary states like Texas and Florida.
clearly on the verge of eclipsing the rest of the field as the
anti-Dean option. So much so that he's starting to take direct
fire from fellow candidates, most notably John Kerry who sent
Jeanne Shaheen out yesterday in Manchester with guns blazing:
don't think someone who raised money for Republicans, praised
George W. Bush after he had begun his systematic reversal of
Bill Clinton's policies, and who as recently as this past summer
refused to rule out running for president as a Republican should
be the Democratic nominee for president."
said yesterday he's "tired of being a pincushion"
and is fighting to hold on to a victory in Iowa, something that's
becoming more and more critical for him given the expectation
the next few weeks do produce a Dean-Clark cage match, it should
be quite a spectacle. Let's look at the tale of the tape:
11/Terrorism/War in Iraq
1) We're no
safer against terrorist attack since 9/11.
2) America is no
safer since the capture of Saddam Hussein.
3) We needed
"permission" from the United Nations to attack Iraq.
would have already captured Osama bin Laden if he were President
can guarantee with 100% certainty there won't be any future
attacks on U.S. soil while he's in office.
3) In October
2002 that "certainly there's a connection between Iraq
and Al Qaeda" but argues
now that "there was no imminent threat from Iraq, nor
was Iraq connected with Al Qaeda."
1)There was "some
kind of a memo or something" in the Pentagon that he
never saw laying out plans to invade seven Middle Eastern countries.
Clark says to get an idea of what the "neocons" are
planning you need to "listen to the gossip around Washington."
2) Secretary of Defense Don
Rumsfeld leaked his own memo (the infamous "long hard
slog" memo) to the press. Asked for proof of the allegation,
Clark cited "general Beltway gossip."
3) In the aftermath of September 11 he a received a phone call
from "the White House" and/or "people around the
White House" and/or "people who had—Middle East think
tanks and people like this" pressuring
him to say that Saddam Hussein was connected to the terrorist
Bush was warned about 9/11 ahead of time by the Saudis.
He didn't serve in the military because of a bad back but suggests
to the Quad City Times editorial board that his brother was
in the military (he wasn't).
He has no idea why Hugh Shelton told an audience that his colleague
has "integrity and character issues." When asked
by Tim Russert last June why he was forced to step down as
Supreme Allied Commander Clark says in the same sentence that
he was "given a number of reasons" for his dismissal
but that "the honest answer is that I don't know."
It's a woman's Constitutional right to have an abortion right
up until the very second the fetus' head is exiting the womb
with no restrictions or qualifications.
of the government's business" and calls the concept of
partial birth abortion "nonsense." Dean got a good "yuk"
out of the crowd at a NARAL
Pro-Choice America dinner last year when he told them that
"Vermont is the promised land for you folks." The former
doctor went on to explain his opposition to parental notification
by telling the story of a 12-year old female patient of his impregnated
by her father - a story we
later learned on Meet the Press that Dean knew was false when
he told it.
more floating around from these two surreal candidates running
for the highest office in the land, but I'm afraid that's about
all I can muster right now. If you know of anything I'm missing,
send me an email
titled "Two Headed Monster" and I'll try to put them
QUOTE: I can't resist. Tucked neatly into the end of the 9th
graf of this
rather dramatic LA Times profile of Dean's ascendance to the
Governorship of Vermont is this "Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman
high-five slapping" quote:
years as a legislator, Dean was reliably liberal, recalled Paul
Poirier, then a Democratic House leader and later one of Dean's
voted for every increase in spending we pushed for," said
Poirier, now a mental health lobbyist.
As if they
need any more.
Question: What do Democrats Jim McGreevey, Ed Rendell, John Street,
Barbara Hafer, and Bob Casey have in common? Answer: Robert Feldman,
entrepreneur and heavyweight political fundraiser who recently
with a subpoena "seeking documents related to his dealings
with lawyer Ronald A. White, a Street backer who is at the center
of a federal probe into City Hall corruption." Hard to say
where the probe is going at this point, but it's never a good
sign when your star moneyman has to start talking to the Feds.
CLARIFICATION: I've gotten couple of emails saying Hafer
is a Republican - and a liberal one at that. It's true she was
a long-time member of the GOP, but late last year she switched
her affiliation back to Democrat to set up a run against Rick
Santorum. I say "back to Democrat" because she originally
was a Democrat but was recruited into the GOP in 1975. That's
right, a she's a double-switcher.
If you haven't seen Powerline's
demolition of the O'Neill/Suskind documents you need to take
a look. Drezner
deconstruct O'Neill as well and - no big surprise here - Krugman
jumps on the O'Neill vindication bandwagon. - T. Bevan 12:45
pm | Link
January 12, 2004
HOUSEKEEPING: A couple quick programming notes before we get
started. First, you may notice we've taken down our "news
coverage" page. Frankly, we've struggled with it for a long
time. Most people don't visit our site for hard news and while
we've always thought it was important to have a few of the top
non-political stories on the site every day, we felt it was time
to reallocate our resources to cover more political news - which
is what most people really want from us anyway. Hence, if you
visit our "Political
Races" page this morning you'll find a new, improved,
more robust version that should contain just about every political
news story you'd possibly want.
also revamped and updated the "Talk
Show Opinion" page with transcripts from yesterday's
shows. We'll be updating this page every Monday morning and may
also put up a transcript or two during the week from one of the
nightly talk shows if somebody says something interesting.
It's an important part of what we do, so please click through
and visit our advertisers whenever you can. If everyone can make
it a habit to click on an ad or two every time they visit, it
will go a long way toward helping us pay the bills.
WORKER PROGRAM: What can you say? It's an incredibly complex
issue with no easy answers. In an ideal world, of course, we don't
want to be providing any rewards or incentives to those who break
our immigration laws. But we don't live in an ideal world. Our
immigration system has been a mess for decades.
is we have 8-12 million people in the country who broke our laws
to come here and work. So what do we do with them now?
proposes blanket amnesty, in effect bestowing full citizenship
on all those now in America. This is totally unacceptable to the
public and would cause a worldwide rush of people trying to make
their way into America.
side proposes rounding up all illegals and deporting them, enforcing
the rule of law right down to its letter. Even if this were a
practical possibility - which it isn't - the result would be an
economic depression. That's simply too high a price for the country
to pay to rectify today a problem that's been more than 30 years
in the making.
Bush has obviously tried to follow a middle course that attempts
to deal with the issue in a pragmatic way without throwing principles
completely out the window. I beg to differ with those who think
this is a complete and total election year pander by the President.
Given the volatility and the emotions surrounding the issue, especially
among the conservative base, I'm honestly surprised he touched
a guest worker program is favored
by 7 out of 10 Latinos, there's a very real possibility this
plan ends up costing
the President a significant number of votes around the country.
my position on the program as "qualified support." My
biggest complaint is that Bush's plan comes with little or no
concrete proposals for reforming the current immigration system.
I hate to sound like the biggest Mark Steyn suck-up on the planet,
nailed it again in his Sun-Times column yesterday:
of the remaining options is the least worst? To leave a population
20 times bigger than that of Dean's Vermont living in the shadows,
knowing that those shadows provide cover for all sorts of murky
activities -- from fake IDs for terrorists to election fraud.
Or to shrug ''They're here, they're clear, get used to it,''
and ensnare them, like lawful citizens, within the coils of
president has opted for the latter option. A pragmatic conservative
could support that, but only if the move was accompanied by
a determination to address the ''root cause'': the inertia and
incompetence of America's immigration bureaucracy. But there's
no indication in the president's remarks that he's prepared
to get serious about that.
paid lip service to reforming the INS in his speech, but we're
talking about a massive bureaucracy suffering from systemic failure
and an inability to perform many of its primary functions. In
a special series on illegal immigrants in 2001 (very much worth
reading by the way), the Arizona
Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is charged with
deporting undocumented workers and punishing businesses that
hire them, does neither, except near the Mexican border. Under
political pressure from employers, advocacy groups and politicians,
the agency has not penalized an Arizona company for hiring illegal
immigrants in 19 months.
despite significant increases in federal funding, the INS and
the Border Patrol have basically failed to decrease the flow of
illegal immigrants into the country.
INS under the purview of the DHS and putting in some new computer
software isn't good enough. Nothing short of a massive, sustained
effort at reform - either through a blue-ribbon commission or
flat out demolishing the INS and building something new from scratch
- is what's required. There's no indication the Bush administration
is going to do this, or that it's even a political possibility
if they wanted to.
UPDATE: The House Republican Study Committee has put together
a list of statements from House Republicans supporting and opposing
the President's proposal. Here they are:
Chris Cannon (R-UT), Rep.
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep.
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rep.
Mark Souder (R-IN)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep.
Ernest Istook (R-OK), Rep.
Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep.
Steve King (R-IA), Rep.
Gary Miller (R-CA), Rep.
John Sullivan (R-OK), Rep.
Tom Tancredo (R-CO, House Immigration Reform Caucus Chairman)
TOTALIZATION: Another aspect of the President's plan causing
a huge debate is "totalization," which is something
On one hand
you have Ruben
Navarrette, who explains the plan this way:
here's something really revolutionary. According to the administration,
Bush is intent on making it possible for illegal immigrants
to collect some of the billions of dollars in Social Security
taxes that they pay into the system each year but have never
been able to collect because they use phony Social Security
cards. Under the Bush plan, the workers may have to return to
Mexico to receive their benefits. Still, this is an amazing
gesture. It's also the right thing to do. This is the immigrants'
money. They earned it, and they have a right to claim it someday.
On the other
extreme you have people like Michelle
bureaucrats call this scheme "totalization." Try total prostration.
The proposed agreement is nothing more than a transfer of wealth
from those who play by the rules to those who willingly and
knowingly mock our own immigration and tax laws. What are we
doing promising lifetime Social Security paychecks to day laborers
in Juarez when we can't even guarantee those benefits to workers
here at home?
Unbelievably, the White House is trying to convince us to embrace
this global ripoff because it "rewards work." No, it rewards
criminal behavior. The plan will siphon off the hard-earned
tax dollars of American workers who may never see a dime of
their confiscated earnings and fork it over to foreigners guilty
of at least four acts of federal law-breaking: crossing the
border illegally, working illegally, engaging in tax fraud and
using bogus documents.
and Malkin are wrong. According
to Social Security experts David C. John and Stephen Johnson
of the Heritage Foundation - hardly a bastion of lefty thought
- totalization is neither new nor radical:
sensational press reports, totalization is nothing more than
a negotiated agreement between two nations that allows their
respective Social Security programs to better serve workers
from one nation who are employed in the other during part of
their careers. The United States already has similar agreements
with nearly 20 other nations, including most of Western Europe,
Australia, Chile, and South Korea. The agreement with Mexico
differs only in that it would affect more people: While the
20 existing agreements affect a total of approximately 100,000
workers, the Mexican agreement would affect nearly 165,000 in
the first five years alone.
agreements make it easier for aliens who lived in the United
States and paid American Social Security taxes for at least
10 years, as well as Americans who have worked overseas and
paid Social Security taxes to another nation, to draw their
benefits. The proposed agreement would allow citizens from either
nation who worked in both countries to receive credit for their
entire career from the country that eventually pays their benefits.
Thus, an American worker who worked in the United States for
25 years and in Mexico for 15 years, paying Social Security
taxes to the country of employment, could receive American retirement
benefits based on a combined 40-year work history. The U.S.-Mexico
agreement would also eliminate an American requirement that
the survivors of a Mexican worker who earned and received U.S.
Social Security benefits must come to the United States every
year to prove that they still qualify for survivors benefits.
reason totalization with Mexico is such a hot button is because
of the numbers of people involved. We've had millions of undocumented
workers paying into the Social Security system for years under
fraudulent numbers and receiving no benefits.
I'm no expert,
but a program that provides migrant workers the opportunity to
pay into the Social Security system on an aboveboard basis and
receive the benefits they will be due (as well as vice-versa for
Americans workers in Mexico) doesn't seem unreasonable. And it
hardly qualifies - as Malkin writes - as "treachery."
- T. Bevan 10:44 am | Link